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After Emporio, DLF dreams of another luxury mall

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India’s biggest real estate developer, DLF, is planning to expand its luxury retail business. Having opened its luxury mall Emporio in the Capital about two years ago, DLF is exploring an opportunity to open a similar outlet in Delhi in the near future. Company officials have not divulged the name and the format of the proposed luxury mall, but it could well be the beginning of high-street luxury shopping like in international cities like London, Paris, Milan and New York.

Pointing out that Emporio has been an outstanding success as an experiment for a resurgent and emerging economy like India, Rajeev Talwar, group executive director of DLF, told Business Standard “there is plenty of market for such goods.” According to Talwar, there will be a need for replicating this process all over India in niche geographies. Besides Emporio, the other luxury shopping destinations in the country include UB City in Bangalore and Palladium in Mumbai.

Talwar said DLF will come up with another luxury retail outlet in the New Delhi area, which is known for its commercial and office districts. “This is still at the planning stage. We will do it in partnership with the local authorities,” he added.

DLF had planned to open Emporio-like malls in other cities as well, but that was put on hold for the time being. “Eventually, when the market matures, you will have a larger number of such luxury retail malls”, Talwar pointed out.

On divestment in the hospitality business, DLF said it has decided to keep Delhi’s Aman Hotel (a luxury property) with itself. DLF may divest its stake in some other non-core hospitality assets. Among the non-core assets are the real estate company’s joint venture with the Hilton group, and a number of plots that were acquired for building hotels but not used subsequently.

Talwar said, “Aman (hotel) in Delhi is of great value and it will remain with us.” For the rest of the non-core businesses, advisors have been engaged and the company is waiting for the best results. Apart from Aman Hotel, which was earlier Lodhi Hotel, the Aman Resorts stable has two other hospitality properties in India — Aman-i-Khas and Amanbagh — both in Rajasthan.

DLF had appointed Goldman Sachs as an advisor last year to fund buyers for Aman Resorts, a luxury hotel chain it had acquired in November 2007 for $400 million.

DLF wants to exit its non-core businesses and bring down its net debt level, which was pegged at Rs 21,424 crore in January. It has set a target of Rs 10,000 crore from divestment of non-core assets over a period of two to three years.

Source : Business Standard

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